After more than two hours of testimony in front of some state Assembly members in midtown, it seems like Mike Bloomberg left with as much chance of winning approval for his congestion pricing proposal as he did when he walked in.
While concerns about civil rights issues raised by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky were laughed away, more pinpointed questions gained some traction: Cathy Nolan of Queens pointed to the fact that the bill included steep fines for late payments and granted the new financing agency the authority to charge some people for residential parking. Whether or not that stays in the bill, it showed some people in Albany are actually reading the fine print.
At no point during the hearing did Bloomberg or his deputies seem to come under any particular pressure. The mayor testified surrounded by supporters wearing green t-shirts with various environmental slogans, and dealt reasonably well with most of the questions he got.
Whether it affected the bill’s chances in the Assembly either way is hard to tell. After the testimony, Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, who is close with Speaker Sheldon Silver, said he didn’t see an urgency in getting the proposal passed before session ended.
He also expressed skepticism about the idea that congestion pricing would start out as a pilot program, noting that pilots, once set in motion, are hard to stop. “You’ve got to also look at the politics,” he said. “Could you kill it? That’s the question.”